GOVERNMENT yesterday launched a $1,7 million National Roads Conditions Survey, the second such exercise since 1999, in a bid to improve the state of the country’s roads.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/ MTHANDAZO NYONI
The exercise, wholly funded by the Zimbabwe National Roads Authority (Zinara), will run for nine months.
Speaking at the survey launch in Bulawayo, Zinara acting chief executive officer Moses Juma said it was difficult for the authority to timely rehabilitate or maintain the country’s roads in the absence of critical data required to determine the “structural integrity, distresses, skid resistance and overall quality of the road pavement”.
“There have been various figures flying around as the cost of rehabilitation of the country’s total road network. Most of these figures have had no scientific background due to the lack of a National Roads Conditions Survey,” he said.
“Zinara has been making disbursements, but the challenge has been that we have been flying a plane without a radar.”
He added: “We have prescribed the wrong solutions to what we thought could be the problem. Without a National Roads Conditions Survey, it is almost impossible to meaningfully make an impact on our roads. This is why where an intervention that could be a total rehabilitation of a section, you find someone carrying out pothole patching, which is unsustainable as resources are always directed to addressing a symptom than the real issue in the form of periodic maintenance.
“It is this survey that is the right antidote needed to determine the road network rehabilitation requirements and costs required thereof.”
He said the expected outputs of this survey would determine the actual percentage of roads in poor and good condition, and the percentage of drainage or bridges in good or poor condition.
Juma said international financiers for road works wanted credible data of the entire road network, but Zimbabwe was not in a position to provide such “due to lack of an up-to-date road survey”.
Speaking at the same event, Transport minister Joram Gumbo said government needed to undertake the survey regularly for planning purposes, adding this was necessary to boost economic activity.
Zinara board chairman Albert Mugabe said: “Our road maintenance programmes were ad hoc. This national road survey will present us with results from which we will be in a position to systematically attend to maintenance and rehabilitation of our roads. With the results of this survey, we anticipate that we will be in a position to improve our road